If we dress as statues on the next march and are knocked to the ground by someone, would harsher penalties apply?

That tongue in cheek comment in the middle of a discussion with a couple of friends sparked what happened last weekend. We talked online about how and when we could do something safely during the pandemic, something that would be eye-catching and raise awareness of the Police, Crime, Sentencing and Courts Bill that is currently being debated. The Bill includes increasing the maximum penalty for criminal damage to a memorial from three months to 10 years, yet the minimum sentence for rape is half that.

A couple of weeks ago I saw a comment on Facebook about the Bill and the frustration that had come out, especially after Sarah Everard’s murder, that women were not being looked after by the government and the sheer annoyance that the sentence for damage to a statue was set to be twice the sentence for rape.

And then in a whirlwind we created #FrozenInFear and found half a dozen women who were prepared to meet up and dress as statues to demonstrate, peacefully.

We all agreed that becoming statues of historic, powerful women coming together would meet that aim, but there we faced another issue – there are still relatively few statues of women in history.

Difficulties overcome, and with no duplication, we came together as (in birth order) Britannia, Mary Seacole, Millicent Fawcett, Emmeline Pankhurst, Amy Johnson and Lily Parr. Six women representing Britain, nursing, politics, equality, engineering and sport (amongst others!)

I chose Millicent Fawcett for several reasons. Firstly for the work she did, leading the women’s suffrage movement for 50 years which culminated in women eventually being given an equal right to vote as men. Secondly for her statue being the first of a woman honoured in Parliament Square. The statue was the first in Parliament Square created by a woman, the artist Gillian Wearing added the names of 55 women and 4 men to the plinth, which spoke to me about the importance of women building each other up and working together co-operatively. It was a wonderful event to be a part of in person, but for safety we asked other women to take their own photos and share them in an online event for us to compile.

Throughout our movement’s history, equality has been one of the main co-operative values. We need to carry on the fight against inequality and discrimination wherever we can. Last week we stood up for equality, in this case, by standing up as still as statues.

“The success of every woman should be the inspiration to another. We should raise each other up” – Serena Williams

Photo credit Helen Barker Photography